An open letter to MANA | Hone Harawira

An open letter to MANA | Hone Harawira

Posted on June 16, 2011 by admin in Korero, News

[attention]We know that this issue has died down, but Hone felt that these issues needed to be addressed. Mauri ora![/attention]

Kia ora koutou katoa

I understand that my going to Destiny Church last week has offended some members of MANA, and that my attendance and speech have been seen as an endorsement of Destiny’s stance on homosexuality.

That is not so.

I value the broad support that MANA has attracted from all sectors of our society, and I owe it to everyone to explain things from my own point of view.

You see … like everyone else I have gay people in my whanau, and like everyone else I also have straight people in my whanau, and like everyone else I love them all.

I would sincerely hope that my attendance at the Destiny hui is not seen as an endorsement by either myself or MANA of the views held by Bishop Brian Tamaki and the Destiny Church, in the same way that I hope my attendance at the Mormon Stake Conference on Saturday is not seen as an endorsement of their more unsavoury racial practices of the recent past, or my attendance at an Anglican church service seen as an endorsement of their practice of stealing Maori land over the centuries.

But the fact is that, like all of you, I have whanau in these as well as other churches, and I don’t think we do ourselves any justice by saying we will talk to these ones but we won’t talk to those ones, and neither do I think it wise to reject your own whanau simply because of their faith.

My brother for example, has chosen one of the newer style religions which preaches an end to your past (including your Maori history), which really sucks as far as I’m concerned, but I still love my brother (and keep my fingers crossed that he will see the light some day!). But when his pastor asked me to help out at a function, I did so gladly because that was where my brother was at.

I can even recall my girl Te Whenua happily trotting off to Mormon services with her cousins every Sunday when she was little. In the end she stopped going of her own choice but if she’d chosen to become a Mormon I would have loved her just the same.

And at the risk of offending somebody else, let me say just quietly, that I enjoyed the speakers at the Mormon hui on Saturday night, because the values and the principles they talked about there were the same as those my grandparents raised us on.

So life is not black and white, but let’s get back to Destiny …

Destiny can be criticised for discriminating against people on the grounds of sexual orientation and often is by the mainstream media, but when was the last time you saw a programme on mainstream TV that congratulated Destiny for the work they do with guys the world wants to forget, or for families that social services are too scared to deal with?

I was asked to go and speak and I agreed because Destiny is where many of my people choose to meet and to share their faith. It is not my faith, but they are most certainly my people, and while I don’t subscribe to their philosophies, neither will I berate them in their own house for holding to them.

I didn’t go to Destiny to point out the rights and wrongs of their religion, or to question the rationale for their beliefs. I went to talk about values and principles, to talk about the potential of MANA, to talk about the importance of Maori standing up and speaking up for themselves, and to talk about the need for unity.

MANA is a new movement, and we owe it to everyone who wants to join, to present our kaupapa and to see whether or not there is common ground, and to date we have done so – students, kaumatua and kuia, socialists, marae, churches, iwi, unions, whanau and hapu, gangs, and kura kaupapa.

There will be those who want to leap in and go hard, those who can be encouraged to join, those who hang on the fringes and only commit when things are going well, and those who say yes to your face and vote for somebody else when you’re not looking. And there will be those with such deep political convictions that they won’t work with certain groups, and those with religious beliefs who won’t associate with others as well.

But MANA is still an emerging force, and nowhere near being so well-defined that we should be slamming doors on anyone at the moment. All I ask, from everyone, is a bit of lateral thinking while we search for an equilibrium that most of us can live with.

And don’t forget – the needs of those less fortunate than ourselves are our greatest priority, not who can and who can’t be in MANA. If we are to become a movement big enough and powerful enough to wrest control from the super rich so that our people might flourish, then we need to put our immediate focus on building the movement, not tearing it down.

Folks – I don’t know if this allays any fears that you may have about MANA and Destiny, but I hope it helps you understand where I am coming from, and where I hope MANA is heading in terms of building the movement.

Thank you for your concern, thank you for your understanding and thank you for your love.

“Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari takimano…”

Mine is not the strength of one alone, but the strength of many…